Deep Dive: Françoise Hardy, LA QUESTION
Today the world at large – but particularly the part of the world that’s located squarely in France – celebrates the birthday of famed French singer-songwriter Françoise Hardy. Here at Rhino, we’ve chosen to do so by taking a quick dip into the waters of an album that might not be considered a deep dive in Hardy’s native land, but here in America, it’s not nearly as well-known as it perhaps should be.
Recorded variously at Studio CBE and Studio Davout, both located in Paris, the album generally identified as LA QUESTION is, in fact, a self-titled album by Hardy, but it’s come to be known by its more popular alternate title because that’s the name of the album’s most famous song. At this point in her career, Hardy was working predominantly with the Brazilian singer-guitarist Tuca, who wrote the music for all but one song on the album. (The only exceptions: “Doigts,” for which Hardy wrote both the lyrics and music, and “Reve,” the music for which was composed by another Brazilian musician, Taiguara.) The arrangements on the album were sparse, but that’s why it works as impressively as it does, with the power of Hardy’s voice serving to draw listeners into the proceedings.
LA QUESTION was rapturously received by the French press upon its release, but while it failed to match Hardy’s past commercial successes, it remains one of the most acclaimed LPs in her back catalog, with Belgian music journalist Gilles Verlant citing it as one of the 300 Best Albums in the History of Rock. That said, it’s still almost unknown in America except by diehard music fans, so consider this a perfect time to get educated. As Richie Unterberger wrote of the album on AllMusic.com, “As fireside romantic music goes, it beats the hell out of Jose Feliciano.”
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